If your work-from-home business has taken off and brings enough passive income towards your retirement plan, then that's the reward you truly deserve. You chose to work for yourself because you wanted to save time from commuting, you wanted to stay away from office politics, stay away from any kind of workplace competition and restrictions. You have more time for yourself - the older you get, the more you appreciate what you already have. You learn to take care of your body and mind, you manage your life better in general as you age. So how is everything going with you today?
Today, I'd like to talk about work-from-home seniors and mental health issues as I feel less supercharged, or "blissful", after my morning exercise routine nowadays. Perhaps because understandably, the dose of endorphin release becomes less as you get older.
We know taking care of our physical health and wellbeing is important as our body weakens, and we also know that we shouldn't forget about mental health and wellness. According to World Health Organization, one in five people aged 60 and over across the globe suffer from a mental or neurological disorder such as depression, dementia, and anxiety.
Work From Home Seniors and Mental Health
Since you are sat in front of your computer at home, you may already make sure to maintain good physical health - eat healthily and regularly exercise. But taking care of your mental, emotional, psychological, and cognitive well-being is a difficult one. Because you can't see the symptoms. It's extremely hard for yourself or your family members to judge if something may be going wrong in your head. With fewer face-to-face interactions with others (online or offline), you may unconsciously keep your poor mental state to yourself.
I hope this article will help you pinpoint signs of mental instability, how to address them, and what you can do to prevent them from surfacing in the first place.
Early Signs of Mental Illnesses Among Seniors
Early care and treatment is the single most efficient way to address mental health illnesses and complications. Some warning signs that might indicate mental instability among the elderly include:
Poor Stress Coping Mechanism
We all get stressed from time to time, sometimes get overwhelmed by a trivial, resolvable issue for some reason. Time is a healer most of the time, you forget about how stressed you were just a moment ago and move on. The questions are, how stressful is your life? Do you feel consistently being unable to handle stress? Is it making your life miserable?
If you used to be employed by someone, you must have got rid of most of the major stress causes when you quit or retired from the job. Now that your life is much more peaceful, have you ever noticed that everyday silly little problems can be magnified? Some delivery error, your neighbor misunderstood something you had said, etc?
Stress really is a part of your daily life, so you need to learn how to handle the emotions you feel when you are placed in a tight, triggering situation. Otherwise, the constant outbursts will take a toll on your body.
The shifting of your emotions can become more prominent as you age due to the hormonal changes. But if it seems to occur daily and distracts you from your work, it may be time to seek professional medical help.
Excessive moodiness may indicate several complications including anxiety, anger management disorder, or bipolar, among others. Your mood swings affect everyone around you without you knowing it. Ask your doctor if you can see the specialist to receive the necessary treatments.
We start to lose memory little by little as part of the natural aging process. But if you suddenly start to experience a dramatic memory loss, you know you need to seek medical help.
It may be just the result of work-related stress or lack of sleep though, what do you think? Many of us who have chosen to turn our hobby into an online business often don't know when to stop. We tend to spend what's supposed to be free-time on researching, analyzing, running extra campaigns, or looking for new methods. Fine while you're young but at our age, overwork can cause too much stress, which in turn can risk memory lapses.
There are other causes of sudden dramatic memory loss, such as excessive alcohol consumption, thyroid issues, etc. But there's a more serious cause; frequent lapses in your memory can also indicate "cognitive failure" and the development of complications such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Needless to say, if left alone, these issues may become irreversible in the long run. So keep that in mind, and as soon as you start to experience drastically forgetful moments, speak to your doctor and get yourself tested.
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Delirium (Sudden Confusion)
You may not think you're not there yet - you're still working, your daily life is pretty productive, a delirium happens to retired seniors, not you. But there's always a possibility that the solidarity associated with the work-from-home environment is slowly freaking you out. You're working online, the people you're connected to are virtual, not real, and you know you can never put 100% trust in any of them. But how do you draw the line? How do you make sure you take the "business is a business" approach online and you're always ready to listen to people in real life?
If you start to find yourself taking too long to focus on one thing, that may be a result of being practically detached from reality due to the long working hours online. The word "confusion" is defined as "a situation in which people do not understand what is happening, what they should do (or who someone or something is)". Regularly losing focus may be a warning sign and it may be manifesting in the form of anxiety, leading to a breakdown, depressions, or panic attacks. If you don't think you're capable of controlling your thoughts, don't keep it to yourself and ask for help!
Best Ways to Improve Mental Health Among Seniors
We become less capable of fixing damages as we get older, and it's difficult to self-observe when it comes to mental health assessment, especially when your mind is already in the wrong place. So let's spread some simple tips while we can still joke about "going senile" or "having blond moments" - to improve our overall mental health and wellbeing.
Exercise strengthens both the body and the mind. Various studies over the past decades have proven that exercising regularly yields several results including reduced stress levels, boosted energy levels, and improved overall mood. For example, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour could reduce the risk of depression by 26%. Regular physical exercises can also help boost your sexual drive - we are more aware of the importance of it as we age; stay sexually active without relying on the medications to stay young and healthy, physically and mentally.
Now, here are some practical tips from me. Because some say "yoga, walking or cycling can be more than enough", but that's irresponsible advice from young people who don't know what it's like for a senior person to actually exercise. I'd say;
- Push yourself a little harder than you can. Yes, walking is better than sitting around, but walk faster if you can't run or jump-rope. Take care of your joints and ankles.
- Yoga for the first time - Personally, I'm not so sure. Without supervision by an instructor, you could harm your back or joints (which has happened to me many times in the past!) Start with pauses that are "painless".
- Muscle exercises are great to burn calories faster, obviously don't overdo them to avoid muscle soreness. Too much heavy-lifting can cause tendonitis, so take great care and make sure to give your wrists some warm-down exercises.
- Whatever you do, start with low-impact movements and gradually exercise harder. Monitor the amount of exercise (time or the number of reps) to find the most adequate level so you won't end up exhausting yourself.
- Needless to say, make sure to consult with your physician if you have any preexisting conditions that may hamper your ability.
- Most importantly - enjoy feeling your body's adrenaline release!
The Power of Meditations
A daily meditation routine is a great excuse to drop whatever you do and reset your spirit. Performing just a few minutes of deep meditation can improve concentration, alleviate symptoms of anxiety, boost your ability to focus, ease depression, and reduce stress levels.
I just used the word "spirit" but meditation doesn't have to be spiritual or religious and it shouldn't be hard in any way. You can find many "how to meditate" guides on Google, but here's my way that you may want to try.
- Think of one "reset image" that's neutral and ambient, for example, a cool blue sea, a field full of sunflower. Let's say, a full moon in the clear sky for now.
- Check the time.
- Sit on a comfortable chair or lie down on the bed (whichever works best for you) and close your eyes. You can use an eyepatch or blindfold, but don't let it constrict your forehead. I personally wouldn't bother using an extra "tool" like an eyepatch though. Be free from physical distractions.
- Breathe - inhale and exhale naturally. Shift all your focus to your breathing but don't try to control your breathing in any way. Be natural.
- Imagine that your forehead is relaxed, then slowly move down to your shoulders, arms, hands.
- Imagine your stomach is also relaxed, so are your legs, feet, and toes.
- Keep breathing naturally. "Immerse yourself" in your own body - it means to focus your attention on your body being relaxed, and inhaling & exhaling.
- If you find your concentration breaks at any point, think about the "reset image", i.e. a full moon in the sky. If something else is bothering you, don't panic, don't worry anything about it for now. It's your time to reset and all you need is time, so remain calm, think of the beautiful full moon, and start breathing slowly again.
- When you feel it's enough, check the time. If you've meditated for 2 minutes, that's great. 10 minutes, that's better. If you've fallen asleep, who cares?
The main thing for me is to do this at least once a day - make sure to stop whatever I'm doing at some point each day to meditate.
If something's bothering you too much (work-related, relationship problem, anything) and you're unable to meditate, then don't. Don't force yourself anything. Try again later on the day, and continue to make time to meditate every day.
Solving Puzzles and Brain-Training Games
We are in a lucky place to be able to do what we want to do and make money from it. But we know that our brain is slowly going rusty, and want to delay that process. We want to use "the other side" of the brain - improve cognitive abilities with puzzles and brain-training games. And good cognitive skills maintain good mental health.
For over the past decades, many studies have proven that playing games and puzzles regularly can improve your brain's processing speed, analytical thinking, memory capacity, and decision-making skills, among other cognitive functions. Systematic games such as online IQ tests are good, and you can find many puzzles just by googling.
Adopting a Pet - Yes or No?
Pets will give you wonderful, blissful life like nothing else. But first of all, as an animal welfare supporter and an owner of both a dog and a cat myself, I would strongly advise you not to consider getting a pet solely for your own benefit.
Having a pet is a lifetime commitment. Don't get a dog especially, unless you are confident that you (and someone in your household) will be able to take care of the dog every day until the moment he/she dies.
Life with pets will be costly (mostly the insurance and vet fees that are not covered by the insurance), and it'll make it harder to go away on vacation. These are the things that you need to seriously take into account.
Having said that, there are a few reasons that pet companionship can improve and maintain your mental health and stability, without a doubt. For example;
- Interactions with your pet (stroking, holding, playing together, feeding, and watching him/her eat) will help you ease your mind, reduce stress and anxiety.
- If you own a dog, you'll inevitably take him/her out for exercise at least once a day, which will also help you exercise and may give you a chance to socialize with other dog owners, e.g. in the park. Exercise and social interactions can help maintain a good mental state.
Re-Identify Your Hobbies
For many of us who have chosen to turn a hobby into a retirement business, nothing seems more enjoyable than monetizing what we love to do. But things never always go according to the plan. When a hobby becomes a job, motivation and pressure are two sides of the same coin. It does my head in sometimes, indeed.
If you feel the same way as I feel, here's a question. Do you have another hobby (or more than one hobby) that you truly enjoy? There's no right or wrong answer, you don't have to go out searching for new hobbies. If your current work-from-home job is your hobby, that's your ultimate hobby it is. The two main things about a hobby (or work/hobby) that saves your sanity are;
- It's productive - it keeps you learning, and
- It's positive - you enjoy it, you don't get stressed too much by it.
With all that said, considering you don't have a lot of time left, you might want to revisit some things you never had time for when you were young. Find out whether there are any new hobbies that you want to take up by listing up as many as you can think of, such as;
- Hobbies/activities that excite you and feasible (e.g. low-cost, easy to start.)
- Hobbies that you used to dream of but no longer feasible (e.g. skydiving.)
- Skills that you were willing to master in the past but gave up half-way.
- Things that you already enjoy doing but don't consider as hobbies, which you can put in more effort and improve (e.g. cooking, exercising.)
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